Have you ever prayed for God to take you home?
Have you prayed for a desperate sick relative or friend to be given the release of death?
If most people were honest there is likely a time a prayer such as “Lord, please take me home” or “Lord, please take them home” has passed your lips. While there are ample examples of people in Scripture making a similar prayer, I can’t help but wonder: is that prayer in itself caused by sin?
I honestly wonder now if that prayer is in essence our flipping a finger at God and saying “You really don’t know what You’re doing in my life.” A friend of mine has been struggling and we came upon this topic during a discussion where he told me he recently prayed that prayer.
I’ll admit there have been times in my past where I was hurting so badly emotionally that I laid on the floor and prayed for God to give me the grace to just take me home. I will never hasten the process but I wasn’t opposed to God just saying “OK” and causing me to spontaneously combust. I know others beyond my previously mentioned friend as well who have stories of begging God to take them home because they’d had all they could take of this world.
And we would have our justification. We would say “the prophets did it! Why can’t we?”
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4 ESV)
Jonah did it twice!
“Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3 ESV)
When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:8 ESV)
Looking at each case in total, you can easily build a case that Jonah’s prayers were inherently selfish in nature. Elijah could also have that case although you could say his motivation was really driven by fear whereas Jonah’s was driven by anger over God’s grace to Nineveh. In reality, both men didn’t really want death; they wanted relief from the turmoil of their lives.
And that’s where I start wondering if it’s really our place, regardless of circumstance, to ask God to end our life because of our circumstances.
If we truly believe the Scriptures, then we must believe that God has a plan for each one of us and that God is working for our good in whatever situation we’re in. If we do not believe that, then we’re essentially saying that Romans 8:28 is invalid:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
And if Romans 8:28 is invalid, then how can you really stand on anything else in the Scripture?
That means right now…no matter how horrible life may be for you…God was not unaware that you would be there at this moment. He knew that everything you and I are currently facing would be in front of us. We need to stand on the promise that God is working for good.
And don’t think for a second that I’m writing this to you from the other end of the valley. My life is far from what most Americans would call “good.” In fact, most people who know my situation think it’s pretty darn bad. My valley is so deep that Bear Grylls would look down and say “I’m not jumping in there.” But that doesn’t mean God is not working everything for good. It doesn’t mean God was caught off guard by any of it; it doesn’t mean God isn’t prepared for it.
When we spend our time in prayer and that prayer ask him to show us the grace of taking us home so our pain will end, we’re not wanting death. We’re wanting relief from the physical or emotional pain. We really don’t want to leave our family or friends (if we have any.) We’re just overwhelmed by the pain and we want the pain to go away.
But God knows that for whatever reason for good we need to go through the fire.
And it’s not like he’s left us alone. We have a helper: the Holy Spirit.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26 ESV)
I’m not saying that life is going to be easier remembering all of these things. If there’s one thing I can say definitively from Mustard Seed Year it’s that following Christ doesn’t guarantee the life of ease and greatness you see promised by televangelists and people asking you to buy prayer hankies. Life is going to have moments where it’s a struggle just to take another breath.
But God KNEW you would be where you are long before you reached that point. And Romans 8:28 is still true. And even if you can’t see it, there’s good.
So I think that it would be sinful for us to turn to God and pray for death. We shouldn’t allow our pride to creep in and say that we know the best solution to the situation which is exactly what we’re doing when we ask God to take us home. If we’re alive, He has a plan to work for our good. We need to cling to that promise and ask God to comfort us through the Holy Spirit. To give us wisdom. Strength.
God our father isn’t going to keep us here one day longer than we need to be here for His plan. When His plan with us is done, then He’s going to bring us home to be with Him forever. Until then, realize every day alive is another day forward in His plan for good.
Have you ever prayed for God to take you (or someone else) home?